Sunday, July 14, 2019


I can't remember how I first heard about shakshuka, but I'm guessing it was from our Israeli friends who visited and stayed with us a couple years ago. It's now one of my favorites: a seasoned, flavorful tomato sauce base with delicious clouds of floating eggs cooked right in. I top it with feta cheese and parsley, and serve it over quinoa. The little crunchy summery salad to go with it had yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, purple onion, salt and pepper, olive oil, white wine vinegar, and feta.

This shakshuka recipe was inspired by Tori Avey's

You'll need:
  • 2 cans of diced organic tomatoes (about 400 g each)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • about 6 or 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • green or red sweet pepper, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 7 eggs
  • pinch of sugar
  • feta and parsley, for topping
Do this:

Saute the onion, garlic, green pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil in a frying pan, then add in the spices, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Simmer for a little while, then break each egg individually in a separate small bowl and gently pour each one into the tomato sauce mixture. Bubble till the eggs look set, then crumble some feta cheese and sprinkle some parsley over the top. 

This is the creamiest way to eat eggs--they just melt in your mouth. And the sharpness of the tomato sauce is such a good foil. 

I could probably eat this at least once a week until the end of my days. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

easy gluten- and dairy-free summer lunch

Easy summertime lunch: endou mame (sugar snap peas), Kewpie carrot-orange dressing, grapes, feta cheese (Costco), black bean and quinoa tortilla chips (Costco), boiled egg, and (not shown) an avocado.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

basil-coconut-curry chicken

I don't remember where I originally got this recipe, and I've been making it for years, but of course I've changed it some. It was perfect for when we moved back to Japan and didn't have an oven yet--you just need a rice cooker and a frying pan.

This is a good amount for four people, with a little bit leftover for two kids the next day. 

You'll need:
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • one onion, chopped
  • many garlic cloves, minced
  • oil for cooking (I use coconut) 
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch (katakuriko)
  • this spice mix: 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1.5 teaspoons sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon powdered ginger, and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Do this:

Cut up the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and coat with the spice mix. Chill in the fridge for an hour or two. Get your rice going in your rice cooker.

After the chicken has done its thang in the fridge, fry the chopped onion and the minced garlic in the coconut oil, then add in the chicken. When it's cooked through, mix the can of coconut milk with the cornstarch (or potato starch) and pour in. Let it simmer a little bit until it's heated through and thickened, then serve over rice.

Somehow the basil and curry and creamy-sweet coconut milk really work together! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

sweet-and-salty chocolate snacks: potato chips and popcorn

I was inspired by some chocolate-covered potato chips in a canister at the convenience store, but of course they were expensive and the chocolate wasn't fair trade. So I bought some ridged potato chips, and my son helped me melt some fair-trade dark chocolate and coconut oil together, then he dipped the chips in and laid them on a silicone baking sheet before putting in the fridge to set.

They were so delicious that we then tried it with some salted popcorn, too, and my son suggested dried cranberries as well. We used the same chocolate and coconut oil mixture. Yummy!

Friday, January 18, 2019

easy weeknight slow-cooker orange-ginger chicken

This is one of the simplest weeknight meals I make: white and brown rice mixed (in the rice cooker), orange-ginger chicken breasts in the slow cooker, and green beans (organic frozen: I saute them in the frying pan with olive oil and sea salt). 

I borrowed this recipe from Diethood, but of course have made it my own (I'm not sure what's "diet" about it--it's just really good flavors).

You'll need:
  • 4 chicken breasts, with no skin
  • 3/4 c. orange marmalade (I sometimes use Korean yuzu/citron)
  • fresh ginger, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic cloves
  • oil for greasing the liner of your slow cooker
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • for topping: toasted sesame seeds, sliced green onions, red pepper flakes
Do this: 

Grease your slow-cooker liner, place the chicken breasts inside, and in a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except for the toppings. I cooked mine on low heat for about 5 or 6 hours.

Serve over rice with the toppings, and make sure you don't put the red pepper flakes on your childrens' portions. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"dry curry"

This is my version of what Japanese people call "dry curry," which means it's not saucy. Although this one was pretty spunky.

There are no measurements here! 

You'll need:
  • ground beef and pork mix
  • grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
  • carrots
  • onions
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • kabocha pumpkin (I didn't use it this time, but sometimes do)
  • cherry tomatoes, or a can of chopped tomatoes
  • turmeric
  • curry powder
  • cinnamon
  • parsley
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • tomato paste
  • frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • a little water
  • lemon juice at the end
Do this:

Saute the veggies in oil and then steam in a little water to soften. Add in the meat and cook till done, then add the rest of the ingredients (adding in a tablespoon or two of lemon juice at the end). Serve over rice. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

lentil curry: it's what's for dinner

Dinner tonight was a favorite of mine: lentil curry plus some salad-y side dishes, which included super-duper coleslaw (I added cucumbers, sweet red peppers, cabbage, carrots, and homemade coleslaw dressing), cold marinated beets (with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt), and boiled eggs with seasoned salt. I took the leftover boiled eggs and made deviled eggs, and golly, they're almost gone--all four of us love those.

Cook the lentils in water with some veggie bouillon, salt, and a bay leaf, add in some diced carrots to soften, and separately, in a frying pan, saute onions and garlic, then add in the cooked lentils and carrots, some salt, curry powder, lemon juice, turmeric, and parsley (I loosely base this recipe off of one in the More with Less cookbook).

I really enjoyed all the textures and flavors in this meal. Gochisohsamadeshita!

Friday, January 4, 2019

extremely easy mexican chicken and rice

This was one of the easiest meals ever, so full of flavor, and a Mamatouille original.

You'll need:

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (I remove as much of the skin as I can)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • chili powder to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
  • salt
  • powdered cumin to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
Do this:

Whack it all in the slow cooker on high for 7 hours, then shred the chicken with two forks and serve over rice.

Our toppings: sliced black olives, salsa, avocado, and soy yogurt that I mixed with peeled and chopped cucumber, cumin, salt, pepper, and minced garlic.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

new year's black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread

My paternal grandma, Mommee Melt, would've been proud of me today: I made the traditional black-eyed peas, cornbread, and greens that she always insisted on for good luck on New Year's Day. The only thing is, I was two days late. Good thing I'm not superstitious!

I just made up my own recipes for the greens and peas.

You'll need:

  • one small bag of dried black-eyed peas
  • salt and pepper
  • bacon
  • green beans
  • bay leaves
  • plenty of fresh garlic cloves
  • fresh mustard greens
  • one onion, chopped
  • olive oil
Do this:

Bring the dried black-eyed peas to a boil in a pot of water, then turn it off and leave it for an hour or two. Come back later and bring back to the boil and add bay leaves. When they're starting to soften, add salt, pepper, chopped bacon, chopped green beans, and whole cloves of garlic. Simmer till it's kind of soupy.

For the greens, wash and chop them into bite-sized pieces. In a frying pan, saute the onion in olive oil till soft, then add in some minced fresh garlic, the greens, and a little bit of water. Then season with salt. 

Serve with cornbread, and make sure you save some of the pot liquor from the greens and black-eyed peas for the cornbread too. And don't forget sliced tomatoes doused in seasoned salt.

Happy 2019!

homemade pumpkin-pie spice, and coconut-flour pumpkin pancakes

I can't buy "pumpkin pie spice" here in Japan, but I can buy all the separate ingredients, so going on My Baking Addiction's recipe, I made my own and stored it in a jar: 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1.5 teaspoons ground allspice and 1.5 teaspoons ground cloves.

I make my own coconut-flour pancakes with the spice.

You'll need:

  • 10 eggs (yes, really!)
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a couple pinches of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • about 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pureed pumpkin (or homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
  • coconut oil for frying
Do this:

Beat the eggs and mix in all the other ingredients except for the coconut oil, which you'll use in the frying pan to cook these puppies. Watch them carefully because they burn easily! 

My pumpkin puree already had sugar in it (not my choice but the only thing available on iHerb), so I didn't add any sweetener. We ate these just with butter.

corn and black bean salad: the one j-bean loves

Purple onions and cans of black beans are pretty hard to come by in Japan, but when I can find them, this is a versatile side dish/salad that three out of four of us love.

You'll need:

  • a can of corn, drained
  • a can of black beans, drained
  • cilantro (coriander leaves), chopped
  • rice vinegar (or regular white vinegar)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • sweet red pepper, chopped
  • purple onion, chopped
Do this:

Mix it all together and chill in the fridge for a bit for all the flavors to meld. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

new year's eve and nut loaf

I haven't converted to veganism, but a vegan friend recommended this outstanding nut loaf to me because I can eat everything in it and my tummy will still feel happy. And it was worth it! It's not a quick meal to make, though it was easy. It's from the BBC food archives here, and I pretty much just followed the recipe, unusually enough (my few slight changes are included here).

You'll need:
  • 300 mixed nuts (I used almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
  • the equivalent of one veggie stock cube (I used a little sachet)
  • olive oil (or grapeseed oil if you prefer)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped (the original recipe called for two, but they're expensive here in Japan and sold per stick)
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 3 minced garlic cloves 
  • 4 tablespoons cashew butter (I had to make my own in my high-powered blender)
  • 180 g cooked chestnuts, chopped
  • 75 g dried cranberries (I just eyeballed it to taste)
  • fresh parsley, chopped (well, I ran out so I used dried)
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper to taste
Do this:

In a frying pan with your oil, add the onions, celery, leek, and carrots and saute till tender, then add in the minced garlic for a minute.

I used an 8X8 glass baking pan, rubbing it with oil and then adding a piece of parchment paper cut to size in the bottom. 

Preheat your oven to 200 C. 

In a food processor, blitz the nuts with the veggie stock cube or sachet until finely chopped but not turned into nut butter! In a big mixing bowl, add the hot cooked veggies and stir them up with the cashew butter, then add everything else and stir well. Pour it into your prepared pan and pat down with a wooden spoon till flat on top. Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 20 so that it gets nicely browned (they would say fox-colored in Japanese). 

Let it set out a few minutes before slicing and serving with vegan gravy (I use 2 cups water, 2 stock cubes, dried parsley, sage, a little salt and pepper, then bring to a boil and add a bit of soy milk and a splash of water mixed with cornstarch or potato starch for thickening). 

Enjoy for a festive holiday meal. And Happy 2019 to you all! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

savoury gluten- and dairy-free goat-cheese herb muffins (with a kick, if you like)

Lately some Japanese grocery stores have cottoned on to the fact that not everyone can eat everything. Enter Aeon's allergen-free series of mixes--this one is a baking mix for making savoury okonomiyaki (like meaty and cabbage-y pancakes) or for coating fried chicken. It contains rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, salt, and baking powder. Perfect pour moi! 

So I experimented, and here are some mighty delicious herby muffins with goat cheese (and red pepper flakes for those who so desire--I do desire, thanks).

You'll need:
  • 2 packs of Aeon's okonomiyaki gluten-free mix (300 g total weight), or GF baking mix of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons mixed herbs (marjoram, basil, oregano, and thyme)
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley 
  • red pepper flakes (optional for topping)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup milk (I used organic soy)
  • 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil 
  • goat cheese for topping
Do this: 

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together, and in a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Then add the wet into the dry and stir 'em up. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins, or use reusable silicone muffin cups like I do. Top with some crumbled goat cheese, more dried parsley, and red pepper flakes if you like (me likey). Bake at 350 F/170 C for about 12 minutes or so.

These are great with the salmon chowder I've been making a lot lately. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

gluten-free and dairy-free muy delicioso salmon chowder: perfect for a rainy fall day

Canned salmon is something I keep on hand at all times for soup or salmon croquettes, and I found this recipe kind of recently that we all enjoy.

But I do it differently, partly because I don't use dairy milk and cheese, but also because it's hard to find dill here and I haven't tried to grow any. Here's what I do.

You'll need:

  • potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, garlic--all chopped
  • a can of corn
  • another can of corn with the liquid--puree that with a hand blender to use as the "creamed corn" that the original recipe called for (premade creamed corn has wheat and sugar in the ingredients list)
  • 3 small cans salmon
  • several cups of water with a couple of veggie bouillon cubes or powder sticks
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh or dried parsley
  • whatever milk you use (soy for me)
Do this:

Saute the veggies in grapeseed oil in a big stock pot, then add in the water, bouillon, salt, pepper, and parsley. Boil till the veggies are soft, then add in the broken-up salmon, corn, pureed corn, and then a cup or two of milk. Serve with corn muffins if you have them, or herbed goat-cheese muffins (recipe to come). 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

sassy salad: endive, avocado, tomatoes, cukes

When I find endive on the sale table in the produce section of the grocery store, I make this salad. It's so more-ish with the sweet tomatoes, crunchy-fresh cucumbers, creamy avocado, and bitter endive.

You'll need:

  • cukes
  • tomatoes
  • endive
  • avocado
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • dried mixed herbs, or fresh
  • minced clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
Do this:

Slice and dice, then mix with the dressing and serve at room temperature so you can taste all those great flavors and textures.